Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Daring Cooks Make Nut Butters! And then use them!

I was worried that I wasn't going to be able to complete this month's Daring Cook's Challenge, what with being busy cuddling my new little cupcake and all. Ok, in reality most of my time is spent feeding, changing diapers and trying to catch up on my sleep. Luckily my parents came into town this past weekend, allowing Grandma to tend little WiggleWorm, and Grandpa to help me in the kitchen! So yes, Daring Cook's was my first foye into the kitchen in over three weeks! Thank God this was not an all day overly complicated challenge!!
The July 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by Margie of More Please and Natashya of Living in the Kitchen with Puppies. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make their own nut butter from scratch, and use the nut butter in a recipe. Their sources include Better with Nut Butter by Cooking Light Magazine, Asian Noodles by Nina Simonds, and Food Network online.

This was my first time making a nut butter, and I thought it was fairly easy. I remember my grandmother used to make homemade peanut butter all the time, and I relished it when we could go to her house for the day! I was really sad when she stopped making it! I never attempted it because I thought it would be an overly complicated and involved process (I don't know about you, but I always think of my grandmother's homemade from-scratch things as being overly complicated and involved). But turns out, it's not really that hard! 

This was a great meal, it wasn't that hard to prepare at all, only took about 30 minutes, and was good! It was very nutty and smooth. The pecans and thyme worked really well together, which I was surprised at. My only complaint was that it needed more sauce, I don't like my pasta overly dry. If I'm going to spend my time making homemade pasta sauce, I want some sauce!!! Next time, I think I will play with the sauce a bit - saute the mushrooms and shallots in butter (butter is always better!), and replace the water with some cream (how can a "cream sauce" be a cream sauce without any cream?!) and add a splash of bourbon! 

Chicken with Pecan Cream and Mushrooms
Yield: 4 servings
Recipe notes: Substitute your favorite pasta or rice in place of the egg noodles. Use fresh rosemary or parsley in place of thyme if you prefer.
Pecan Cream:

3/4 cup (180 ml) coarsely chopped pecans*, toasted

1 cup (240 ml) water

¾ teaspoon (3 ml) salt, more as needed
½ pound (225 g) egg noodles or pasta

4 (6-ounce / 170 g) boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

1 teaspoon (5 ml) olive oil, more as needed

Salt & pepper to taste

1 tablespoon (15 ml) deglazing liquid (water, broth, wine; optional)

1 teaspoon (5 ml) olive oil, more as needed

1/4 cup (60 ml) finely chopped shallots

½ pound (225 g) mushrooms, sliced

1 Tablespoon (15 ml) fresh thyme leaves

Chopped pecans, (optional garnish)
Grind pecans in a food processor for about a minute or so until smooth, scraping down the sides of bowl as needed.
 Add water and 3/4 teaspoon (3 ml) salt; process until smooth, scraping sides of bowl as needed. Set aside pecan cream. (*If starting with prepared pecan butter, blend ¼ cup plus 2 Tablespoons (90 ml) pecan butter with the water and salt until smooth.)
Cook noodles according to package instructions in salted water. Drain, rinse, and keep warm.
Sprinkle chicken with a bit of salt and pepper to taste. 
Heat 1 teaspoon (5 ml) olive oil a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the chicken in until golden  brown and thoroughly cooked. Set aside cooked chicken on a clean plate, cover to keep warm.
Add deglazing liquid to pan if using and stir up any browned bits. If needed, add another teaspoon (5 ml) of oil (or more) to pan for sautéing the shallots and mushrooms. 
Sauté the shallots and mushrooms over medium heat for 4 to 6 minutes or until mushrooms are tender and starting to brown. 
Add fresh thyme to the pan. 
Stir in pecan cream; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 1 1/2 minutes till reduced slightly.
Slice chicken into thin strips. Divide the noodles among serving plates. Add a scoop of the mushroom pecan sauce on top of noodles. Lay sliced chicken on top. Garnish with fresh thyme and/or a pinch of chopped pecans if desired.


  1. Looks very yummy, I love egg noodles! Congrats on your little cupcake she is absolutely precious!

  2. Congratulations on your little one--the nickname Cupcake is adorable, too. :) The pasta looks very tasty. Pecan and thyme sound like an intriguing pair.

  3. O I can imagine it must be hard being in the kitchen when you have a little cupcake (I love that term by the way! So cute!!)
    Glad to see you did manage to make this challenge. It looks delicious!

  4. Congratulations on your new "cupcake." And nice job squeezing in a Daring Cooks challenge. It looks delicious. I think I'll use your suggestions and add cream, butter, and bourbon next time!

  5. I was in the same boat on the sauce, when I read the recipe initially, so I changed the water to a cup of heavy cream. I STILL felt it was a little dry when it was all put together, though. I should have put more butter, I think. There needs to be something to pull it together, to be sure.

    What a great shot of the cooked mushrooms; they look YUMMY, and I don't even like mushrooms! :D Beautiful!

  6. Jenni...your pecan cream mushroom chicken looks amazing..and nonthing like Gram and Gramps to help make it happen! It'll be a while before your little cupcake can eat it, but when she does, she realize Mommy's cooking rocks :) BF says the same thing to me all the time about my photo complaints LOL


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